4E Where was 4e headed before it was canned?

Ratskinner

Adventurer
Not responding to any particular recent post, but mostly the thoughts expressed by [MENTION=82504]Garthanos[/MENTION] and to some extent [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION]....

I'm a big Fate fan...and its a game that let's you (by default) play literally anything you can make up (subject to group approval, etc.). I like it for that, its very simple and straightforward. If you wanted to play a Fire Priest, Warlord (as 4e meant it or as it generally means), or whatever...you could. We just talk a little bit about what that means to you, maybe write an aspect and stunt or two to reflect it and presto, there you are. You don't have to pour over lists of classes or feats or anything (which are, by nature, guaranteed to miss something).

Now, there's plenty of differences between D&D and Fate. (Lack of grid-friendly tactical combat, funky dice, etc.) However, I just don't think the typical gamer is so concerned with getting some special unusual character represented by the mechanics, or we'd see games like Fate ripping players away from D&D left and right...and we don't. I think by far the vast majority of players are just fine playing something out of the box and with maybe a little tweaking.

Just my $.02
 
However, I just don't think the typical gamer is so concerned with getting some special unusual character represented by the mechanics, or we'd see games like Fate ripping players away from D&D left and right...
D&D's place in the market is unique. It's the only RPG with name recognition outside the hobby, so it's where virtually all of us start. If you like D&D, or at least tolerate it long enough see some potential with the concept of RPGs, you probably, eventually, become aware that there are other RPGs out there. If you try D&D once and don't care for it - say because you wanted to play a certain character from genre, and just couldn't or were frustrated by the way it was modeled (but potentially for a /lot/ of pretty good reasons) - well, you likely decide the hobby's just not for you, and you never encounter anything you might like better.

FATE is one of many games that does a lot of things a lot better than D&D, sure. But, most people, even those who might like it a lot more than D&D, just don't know it exists and, by the time they've been in the hobby long enough to maybe hear about it, they've gotten /used/ to D&D, have effort sunk in learning it, and probably find it easier to play a d20 game in some genre that FATE covers, instead.

D&D's not just a gateway to the hobby, but a gatekeeper. And it's been that way for 40 years. You can't deduce much about an RPG from it's popularity relative to D&D, other than that it's not D&D (or, in the case of PF1, that it /was/ D&D).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
However, I just don't think the typical gamer is so concerned with getting some special unusual character represented by the mechanics, or we'd see games like Fate ripping players away from D&D left and right...and we don't. I think by far the vast majority of players are just fine playing something out of the box and with maybe a little tweaking.

Just my $.02
I see people playing a metric ton of homebrew classes but it may indeed be the people with whom I interact are different. The prevalence on the web of homebrew classes makes me think my contacts are not so rare.

To me is demonstrates the lacking in 5e character design flexibility is explicitly not serving everyone. Just as the lack of support for the tactical warlord is not supporting everyone.

As for fate? it is an interesting game which supports improvisational support of most everything its definitely not about well defined ability providing tactical predictability in play.... heck even having explicit spell lists is basically putting aside fates strengths in my opinion.
 

Parmandur

Legend
I see people playing a metric ton of homebrew classes but it may indeed be the people with whom I interact are different. The prevalence on the web of homebrew classes makes me think my contacts are not so rare.

To me is demonstrates the lacking in 5e character design flexibility is explicitly not serving everyone. Just as the lack of support for the tactical warlord is not supporting everyone.

As for fate? it is an interesting game which supports improvisational support of most everything its definitely not about well defined ability providing tactical predictability in play.... heck even having explicit spell lists is basically putting aside fates strengths in my opinion.
I've never been in a game that allowed homebrewed Classes, or really heard of people using them in any major fashion. The Internet hobby talk scene is a pretty small representation of the people playing the game. Most character concepts that I can think up would be more about Background details, mechanics are pretty secondary.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I've never been in a game that allowed homebrewed Classes, or really heard of people using them in any major fashion
The real life people I speak to generally have DMs who ply the web for tools ... but may not themselves and that I know few are on here too shrug.

I suspect game shop play is a different arena than more pure home games as well.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
The real life people I speak to generally have DMs who ply the web... but do not themselves and that I know few are on here too shrug.
It's not that home brewing is super hard for undesirable: the DMG provides guidelines to help. But I'm not so sure there is a huge hunger for it.
 
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Ratskinner

Adventurer
I see people playing a metric ton of homebrew classes but it may indeed be the people with whom I interact are different. The prevalence on the web of homebrew classes makes me think my contacts are not so rare.
As others have mentioned, the web D&D community is a relatively small subset of gamers. If anything has been demonstrated to me on these forums, its that all our local communities and experiences are relatively unique. RPGs let alone D&D are far from monolithic. The group I play with now is fairly accustomed to each GM mucking with the rules, but my kids' several groups usually run right out of the book(s).

To me is demonstrates the lacking in 5e character design flexibility is explicitly not serving everyone. Just as the lack of support for the tactical warlord is not supporting everyone.
Not getting into the Warlord thing too deeply, but I think when 5e backed off of 4e's detailed tactical framework that it lost the ability to support a lot of what people are used to in the 4e warlord.

As for fate? it is an interesting game which supports improvisational support of most everything its definitely not about well defined ability providing tactical predictability in play.... heck even having explicit spell lists is basically putting aside fates strengths in my opinion.
Definitely true about the tactical predictability. I also agree about the spell lists. However, my feeling and experience are that lists of things in a game (equipment, classes, feats, etc. which can support such a tactical predicatbility) are about defining that game's world. I don't think there's any way to have them both, outside of an explicitly unskinned tactical game like Strike!, which is still rather thinner than 4e.

EDIT: FWIW, the Warlord was probably my favorite 4e class.
 
I've never been in a game that allowed homebrewed Classes, or really heard of people using them in any major fashion.
They were more a thing back in the day, when classes were even more like straightjackets, you had to get them custom-tailored. I played a Bandit out of The Dragon, I saw more than a couple Archer-Rangers, and, come 2e, the class-creation guidelines did get used, now and then.
More often, though, you'd just tweak a class, or bend the MCing rules to accommodate a concept that didn't fit neatly into the existing options.

3e really changed all that, even though it added tons of classes, not to mention PrCs, it's version of MCing really opened things up. It's classes could've been designed to work a /lot/ better with that kind of MCing, the way saves & caster levels were handled were problematic for instance (5e solved those, while, ironically, messing up Extra Attack very much the way Caster levels were in 3e), and the same goes for 5e where it's an option. 3e also explicitly let players re-skin their PCs appearance (thus, essentially, race) & gear, which also made it easier to accommodate some concepts, and the Fighter and Sorcerer were particularly amenable to build-to-concept.

The Internet hobby talk scene is a pretty small representation of the people playing the game. Most character concepts that I can think up would be more about Background details, mechanics are pretty secondary.
The impression I get from folks who don't see an issue with classes as an impediment, or at least, less functional than could be desired tools, for building to concept, is that they get concept ideas from looking at classes. Which is a legit & convenient way to get an idea for a character - and one of the strengths of having classes in the first place.
It's just the game needn't sacrifice potential for customization to avail itself of that strength. And, no, I don't think it's mainly the hardcore forumites who step up to a table with a character concept in mind that the classes in the game might not cover - I just think we're the ones who stuck around in spite of that.
 

Parmandur

Legend
They were more a thing back in the day, when classes were even more like straightjackets, you had to get them custom-tailored. I played a Bandit out of The Dragon, I saw more than a couple Archer-Rangers, and, come 2e, the class-creation guidelines did get used, now and then.
More often, though, you'd just tweak a class, or bend the MCing rules to accommodate a concept that didn't fit neatly into the existing options.

3e really changed all that, even though it added tons of classes, not to mention PrCs, it's version of MCing really opened things up. It's classes could've been designed to work a /lot/ better with that kind of MCing, the way saves & caster levels were handled were problematic for instance (5e solved those, while, ironically, messing up Extra Attack very much the way Caster levels were in 3e), and the same goes for 5e where it's an option. 3e also explicitly let players re-skin their PCs appearance (thus, essentially, race) & gear, which also made it easier to accommodate some concepts, and the Fighter and Sorcerer were particularly amenable to build-to-concept.

The impression I get from folks who don't see an issue with classes as an impediment, or at least, less functional than could be desired tools, for building to concept, is that they get concept ideas from looking at classes. Which is a legit & convenient way to get an idea for a character - and one of the strengths of having classes in the first place.
It's just the game needn't sacrifice potential for customization to avail itself of that strength. And, no, I don't think it's mainly the hardcore forumites who step up to a table with a character concept in mind that the classes in the game might not cover - I just think we're the ones who stuck around in spite of that.
People think in broad archetypes: it's mythological type-casting.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I think people fail to notice how small things in 4e enabled adaptability in character design (I pay attention to optimization so that I can make characters flexible and match alternative concepts without sacrificing functionality but some of it is done almost automatically for you). The F/R/W defense triples for instance. Basically not playing strictly to trope seems less punished (usually).
 
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cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Not getting into the Warlord thing too deeply, but I think when 5e backed off of 4e's detailed tactical framework that it lost the ability to support a lot of what people are used to in the 4e warlord.
I feel like the 5e design team decided to remove the warlord and instead spread its kit around the various classes. It enables people to play a bard, rogue, cleric, fighter, paladin, or even a barbarian and get some of the benefits of the warlord support skills. There might be other classes that also have some of the warlord style support abilities and there are at least a couple of feats that help with that style of character as well (in one case gaining access to battlemaster manoeuvres that can be spent on the warlordy skills). Although I liked the warlord in 4e and it would probably be my go to class (or maybe a hybrid warlord-wizard) if I had an opportunity to play 4e, I actually like the 5e method of spreading the kit around better.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
The impression I get from folks who don't see an issue with classes as an impediment, or at least, less functional than could be desired tools, for building to concept, is that they get concept ideas from looking at classes.
Then they pretend "concept first" when it actually means concept handed to you. \\

Which to me is only supposed to be a starting point.
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I feel like the 5e design team decided to remove the warlord and instead spread its kit around the various classes.
Sure they did... and yet tell that to my party wide aiding Intelligent tact-lord piff. This is one of two style Warlords in the players handbook not some highly specific singular Warlord.

To me they enforced intelligence is only for spell casting with a big raspberry on top.

The existence of the of the Sentinel feat does not preclude a specialist defender (like the Cavalier)
 
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Then they pretend "concept first" when it actually means concept handed to you. \\
I didn't say nor mean to imply that. In fact, I pointed out that basing a concept on class was perfectly legitimate.

It's just concept-first is also legit, and a class-based system /can/ be powerful enough to do both - 3e & 4e both were. 5e compromises between that and the traditional class-straightjacketing of early eds, putting it close to 2e with it's Kits, or with options turned on, between 2e & 3e. Not a terrible place to be, but not as amenable to build-to-concept as 3e & 4e.

Had 4e been allowed to continue, I expect it only would have continued to improve in both regards, both in putting out more classes for ready-built concepts, and more player-optional customizations like Backgrounds & Themes, on top of free player-side reskinning, for build-to-concept.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Then they pretend "concept first" when it actually means concept handed to you. \\
No. I think you may confuse concept with form.

Shakespeare didn't create the sonnet, for example. The concepts of his poems were his own, regardless of the fact that they are built specifically to use that framework.
 
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I think people fail to notice how small things in 4e enabled adaptability in character design (I pay attention to optimization so that I can make characters flexible and match alternative concepts without sacrificing functionality but some of it is done almost automatically for you). The F/R/W defense triples for instance. Basically not playing strictly to trope seems less punished (usually).
Unless you were a rogue with a shortbow prior to Essentials.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
No I use mechanics to express my concept...to support it. Having mechanics that are adaptable instead of locked down allows more concepts to be expressed
No. You confuse concept with form.

Shakespeare didn't create the sonnet, for example. The concepts of his poems were his own, regardless of the fact that they are built specifically to use that framework.
A sonnet is a highly adaptable set of mechanics
 

Aldarc

Hero
Okay, I succeeded in my Wisdom saving throw to resist talking about how much I love Fate.

I see people playing a metric ton of homebrew classes but it may indeed be the people with whom I interact are different. The prevalence on the web of homebrew classes makes me think my contacts are not so rare.

To me is demonstrates the lacking in 5e character design flexibility is explicitly not serving everyone. Just as the lack of support for the tactical warlord is not supporting everyone.
That was certainly true in the 3.X era as well. I think that sometimes it less about flexibility and more about particularity. There will almost always be someone who is not entirely satisfied by the current offer of choices. Or there will always be people who love to tinker and kitbash a system.

To the credit of 5e, it has provided a fairly robust chassis for that kitbashing as a result of its subclass system. Whereas the 3e era was more focused on creating new classes, 5e sees greater predominance of making new subclass fan creations for existing classes. Though I also find it a bit too much for my own liking, much as I later did in the 3e era.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Okay, I succeeded in my Wisdom saving throw to resist talking about how much I love Fate.
Hard to resist...
To the credit of 5e, it has provided a fairly robust chassis for that kitbashing as a result of its subclass system. Whereas the 3e era was more focused on creating new classes, 5e sees greater predominance of making new subclass fan creations for existing classes. Though I also find it a bit too much for my own liking, much as I later did in the 3e era.
While I have seen quite a few full classes as well as sub classes. I think its way too easy to find ones which are not particularly good as well. Those who want something else seem quite confident in trying them out though.
 

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